Bondi Rescue is an Australian factual television programme which is broadcast on Channel Ten. The programme, which has aired since 2006, follows the daily lives and routines of the Waverley Council professional lifeguards who patrol Bondi Beach.
Bondi Rescue was first broadcast in 2006. A spin-off, set in Bali, Indonesia, also briefly screened in 2008. Bondi Rescue is also broadcast internationally throughout 100 countries.
The show was created and produced by part-time lifeguard Ben Davies. It is narrated by British-Australian presenter and host Andrew Günsberg.
The Bondi lifeguards perform around five thousand rescues over the summer period. They also deal with other incidents including lost children, shark scares, bluebottle stings, injuries, sexual deviants, drunk beach goers and thieves on the beach. Every once in a while, celebrities also make appearances on their shores. These have included actors/comedians David Hasselhoff and Kelly Slater (stars of the US lifeguards fiction show Baywatch), Hugh Grant, Zac Efron, Rowan Atkinson, Paris Hilton, Russell Crowe, entrepreneur Richard Branson, musician Snoop Dogg, Steve Irwin and daughter Bindi and the Indian Cricket Team. Bondi veterinarian Chris Brown repeatedly appeared on Bondi beach, meeting lifeguards, in his own show Bondi Vet.
Bondi also has its Annual Lifeguard Ironman Challenge, which tests the skills of each lifeguard with a one-kilometer run from Bondi to local beach Tamarama, then a one-kilometer swim to nearby Bronte Beach, followed by a two-kilometer board-paddle back to Bondi. The race is handicapped: the more accomplished swimmers and board-paddlers set off from Bondi later (up to twelve minutes, depending on how many competitors there are).
Footage for the show is shot during the preceding Australian summer (usually between November and February), with certain episodes reflecting incidents that have occurred during Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and Australia Day. Noteworthy incidents at nearby Tamarama and Bronte Beaches, which the lifeguards are also responsible for, are occasionally shown. Later seasons also featured footage of lifeguard trials and training exercises from the middle of the year. The training in the middle of the year is a trial to test the fitness, strength and ability of the lifeguards. It consists of an 800-metre swim in under thirteen-and-a-half minutes in a swimming pool, then a 600-metre swim surf and two 600-meter runs on the sand at Bondi which should be completed in under 25 minutes. It is also a test for trainee lifeguards to show they are able and committed to the role of a lifeguard. If the competitors do not complete the tasks in the time limit, they are eliminated and do not advance to the next test.
Many rescue boards and jet skis have a camera attached for close-up footage. When deemed safe to do so, the cameraman accompanies the lifeguards out to sea and has even had to assist with rescue operations on a number of occasions.
The production company pays Waverley Council $139,000 per year and a percentage of profits to film the program, and the Council also holds “review rights” to ensure content is acceptable to their practices.